Two Poems

Michael Hofmann

Nicotine

The filter crumples – a cruel exhilaration
as the day’s first cigarette draws to a close.
The optician’s colours turn to a dizzy whiteness
in my solar plexus ... With longing I speculate
on Heimito von Doderer’s excursus on tobacco –
the pharmaceutical precision of the true scholar.

Diablerie

Your ringed hands clutch your elbows. In your arms
is someone else’s child, a black-eyed baby girl
dressed like His Satanic Majesty in a red romper suit:
a gleeful crustacean, executing pincer movements.